GPG Keychain: Public and Private Key

Ted Barben's Avatar

Ted Barben

03 Oct, 2018 07:22 PM

I cannot use my public key because I don’t know what it is. The GPG Keychain gives me my “public and Private Key” but I don’t know what part of it is Public and suspect the entire Key is Private. I therefore have never been able to encrypt a private message I don’t know what to send to the recipient.

I need to know what is the public key. Thank you.

Additional info
/Users/tedbarben/Desktop/Ted Barben (F01950CE) – Public.asc

macOS                   10.13.6     17G65
GPG Suite               2018.4      2310    (bc31914)
GPG Mail                3.0         1330    (724e6997)  19 trial days remaining
GPG Keychain            1.4.5       1496    (25530e6)
GPG Services            1.11.5      1033    (86cb937)
MacGPG                  2.2.10      921     (b487092)
GPG Suite Preferences   2.1.3       1057    (966febd)
Libmacgpg               0.8.6       885     (35a18be)
pinentry           9       (db18340)
  1. Support Staff 1 Posted by Steve on 18 Oct, 2018 07:17 PM

    Steve's Avatar

    Hi Ted,

    welcome to the GPGTools support platform. Sorry you are having problems using GPG Suite.

    Please excuse the late reply, we are deeply sorry for not responding earlier. The amount of feedback we received in regards to the GPG Suite 2018.4 release was overwhelming. We are doing our best to catch up as fast as we can.

    This KB-article explains how to find and share your public key.


  2. 2 Posted by Ted Barben on 19 Oct, 2018 04:03 AM

    Ted Barben's Avatar

    Thank you, Steve. I have done everything your article says but I am still unsure of what my Public Key is. Is it just the last eight digits of my Private Key? If so why don’t you say so. That would make so much easier. There are so many works in the website but it seems like the answer is so easy if correct.

    Please advise.

    Thank you.

    Best regards,


  3. Support Staff 3 Posted by Steve on 19 Oct, 2018 05:05 PM

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    I think section 2.4 of that KB is what you are looking for. It explains how to display your public key in text form.

    And no, the last 8 digits of your keys fingerprint are not your public key. We are not trying to keep information from you.

    Let me know if following the steps in section 2.4 did the trick.

  4. 4 Posted by Ted Barben on 19 Oct, 2018 07:06 PM

    Ted Barben's Avatar

    Thanks, Steve.

    I didn’t realize that it is the asc file itself that is the public key. I was looking for a series of digits like the private key to send to my recipients. There is no way that the text of the asc file is going to be useful to send.

    All is well.

    Thanks again.


  5. Support Staff 5 Posted by Steve on 19 Oct, 2018 09:29 PM

    Steve's Avatar

    Please note that an asc file could also contain your secret key. The file suffix itself does not indicate if a secret or public key or both is included.

    You can either use the key servers to share your key and then send your contacts the fingerprint of your key.

    Or you could share the asc file containing your public key. Please open the asc file in TextEdit to double check it does only contain the public key part.

    Or, but as you stated already is a bit cumbersome, you could share the long text string which is your public key itself.

  6. 6 Posted by Ted Barben on 20 Oct, 2018 12:24 AM

    Ted Barben's Avatar


    I thought I understood it all until you said: “you could share the long text string which is your public key itself”. The GPG keychain says that the text string contains both public and private keys. That is why I have been asking the question, “what is the public key”. I expected a text string for the public key and another for the private key. How can the same text string be both? I was going to record and hide the text string as the private key and use the asc file as the public key.

    I guess I am dense but please bear with me. Sorry.

    Another question, what is the “fingerprint of your key”, the ask file? Do most people understand this easily?



  7. Support Staff 7 Posted by Steve on 20 Oct, 2018 10:30 AM

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    It depends on the options you use during export in GPG Keychain. Select your sec/pub key and click the "Export" icon. Note that by default you only export the public key. You have to tick the option to include the sec key as well. During the export of the sec key you will be asked for the password for your OpenPGP key.

    If you export both sec and pub key you will see that information in the exported asc file if you open it with TextEdit.

    The fingerprint should be listed in GPG Keychain in a column (if not, you can right click the columns and enable that option). You can also see and copy the fingerprint once you double click any key in GPG Keychain. The fingerprint is a unique ID allowing to identify a key (name and email do not qualify as unique identifiers as anybody can create a key with any name or email).

    Don't hesitate to ask if this is still unclear.

    Enjoy your weekend,

  8. Steve closed this discussion on 14 Jun, 2019 03:20 PM.

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